by Max Brantley
As noted by readers earlier, even Paul Krugman was pleasantly surprised by the breadth of President Obama's jobs speech last night. But Krugman noted the painful bottom line:
Of course, it isn’t likely to become law, thanks to G.O.P. opposition. Nor is anything else likely to happen that will do much to help the 14 million Americans out of work. And that is both a tragedy and an outrage.
The bottom line was readily apparent in the instant reaction of Tea Party Republican Rep. Tim Griffin of Little Rock, who observed:
... it appears to be more of the same stimulus that failed in the first place. In Arkansas, the President’s previous stimulus plan cost taxpayers more than $273,000 for every job it created or saved in the state while adding a trillion dollars to our national debt.
(A note on Griffin's dishonest massaging of spending numbers: Construction projects naturally cost far more than the sum of salaries paid construction workers.)
Griffin's solution: Less regulation, lower taxes, less government spending. (His words: "We must stop excessive regulation, reform our tax code so we can remain competitive with other countries, expand our domestic energy production and make government live within its means.")
What Griffin means, in practice: dirtier air, unsafer workplaces, more income disparity and more recession. See Koch brothers.
We know Griffin's obstructionism will carry the day in the Republican-held House. There, the mantra is NO to all things Obama. The question is whether Obama's message last night will get through to voters (it was as if the president had an advance copy of Griffin's radical text).
He framed the debate over the economy as a tug-of-war between mainstream American values and a radical, antigovernment orthodoxy that holds that “the only thing we can do restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own.”
With a difficult re-election bid looming, Mr. Obama declared that his vision would appeal to more voters. “These are real choices we have to make,” he said. “And I’m pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose. It’s not even close.”
In short, writes Politico, the framing is that it is Republican obstructionism, not the administration, that has been most damaging to the U.S. economy. That is what 2012 will be about. The prayer is that the GOP will nominate the living, breathing testament to the truth of this in Rick Perry.
This is probably a good time for me to mention an old friend of mine in Houston, Texas, an extremely successful businessman, solid Republican. (How solid? He likes Dick Cheney.) If Perry is the nominee, he says it will be his first presidential election in which he doesn't vote for the Republican. The cowboy shtick has worn thin even in Texas. (I wonder how that claque of Arkansas Republican legislative supporters feel about Perry's attack on Social Security? What about it Cheerleader David Sanders? You for shutting down that "Ponzi scheme," too?)